Norwich pension board questions former NPU GM Bilda's pension application

Norwich — The Personnel and Pension Board on Tuesday questioned the pension application for former Norwich Public Utilities General Manager John Bilda and will seek a legal opinion on issues related to the time from Bilda’s resignation effective Dec. 31 and the retirement, effective April 10.

The Board of Public Utilities Commissioners approved a separation agreement with Bilda on Jan. 22, after he had been placed on paid administrative leave following a Nov. 8 indictment on four federal corruption charges.

The agreement called for Bilda to resign on Dec. 31, but effective April 10, after he reached his 30th anniversary of employment at NPU. From Jan. 1 through April 10, the agreement called for Bilda to be paid a token $10 per month in wages with a per diem calculation based on 20 “working days” per month, but that he “shall not perform any duties associated with his position as general manager.” He also has received full insurance benefits from Jan. 1 through April 10.

The agreement stated Bilda “shall be considered to have retired in good standing,” eligible for full pension as well as payment for 864 hours of accrued sick time and 296 hours of accrued vacation time.

Bilda submitted his application for a city pension effective April 10, as expected. But the board tabled action on his application to allow time to consult with an outside attorney, Kenneth Plumb of Metzger, Lazarek & Plumb of Hartford. Corporation Counsel Michael Driscoll cited a conflict of interest and declined to become involved in the pension board’s review of Bilda’s pension application.

The board has not yet calculated Bilda’s proposed annual pension payment.

Bilda was one of five Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative officials indicted Nov. 8 in connection with CMEEC’s hosting of lavish trips to the Kentucky Derby from 2013 through 2016 for dozens of CMEEC top staff, board members, family members and invited guests. The trips collectively cost more than $1.1 million, according to the federal indictments.

Bilda faces one count of conspiracy and three counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds. The trial in the cases for all five officials is expected to start next February with jury selection.

c.bessette@theday.com

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